The Surprising Health Benefits of Giving Thanks
When you think of Thanksgiving, the first thought that pops into your head may be a vision of a heaping plate with delicious turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. Yet despite all of the calorie-rich foods you’ll be enjoying this week, there is actually something very healthy about Thanksgiving: practicing gratitude.
Taking time to give thanks for the people and gifts in your life can actually have a positive impact on your health. Here are a few of the ways that the act of giving thanks may promote health and well-being:
- Decreases stress and reduces stress-related symptoms including: headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, and muscle aches
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases likelihood to quit smoking or lose weight
- Decreases angry or hostile feelings
- Lowers risk of depression
- Lowers risk of alcoholism
So how can you and your loved ones tap into the health benefits of giving thanks? Here are a few tips for practicing gratitude not just on Thanksgiving but year-round:
When a friend, co-worker, or family member does something supportive or kind for you, let them know you appreciate it. There’s no need to look for reasons to compliment people. Wait until you feel naturally grateful for another’s action or support. Passing along the compliment is a way of noting your gratitude and it will give the people in your life a happy boost as well!
Keep A Gratitude Journal
A few times per week, take a moment to sit down and write a list of what you are feeling most grateful for. Even if your initial answers are as silly as “I am grateful for this list,” that’s ok. Close your eyes and listen to your inner voice and the list will begin to write itself. Taking time to reflect and record what you are grateful for can improve your mood. On days when you are feeling stressed or sad, you can look back at your list or gratitude journal for a pick-me-up.
Turn Negative Thoughts Around
Even if a situation or interaction seems entirely negative at first, there may be a silver lining or benefit to the experience. If you experience a challenge or problem, then ask yourself what you may have learned from that situation. Is there something you can be thankful for even when a scenario seems adverse. Be honest with yourself. If a person or situation is causing you undue stress, then look for ways to solve the root problem. This practice encourages an optimistic outlook and can help fend off sadness or stress.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Remember to take a moment each day to practice gratitude and elevate your body and mind.